Disadvantages of Working From Home

A dad working from home in a home office while son stands on his chair behind him.

Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

The workplace shutdowns that happened with the COVID-19 pandemic caused many organizations to rethink how and where their employees work. Many permanently adopt work-from-home policies.

According to a survey of 25,000 Americans by McKinsey and Ipsos in spring 2022, 58% said they could work from home at least one day a week. And more than a third (35%) said they could work from home every day.

The perks of working from home are clear. Many people like having no commute, and they find they save money when they don't go into the office.

But there are downsides to working from home, too, ranging from distractions, to technology issues, to feeling like you never stop work. Here are some things to consider if you've got a choice about whether and how much you want to work from home.

Key Takeaways

  • Many remote workers feel they never stop working because they don’t leave the workplace.
  • Family members or others may provide distractions at home that you wouldn’t get at work.
  • Technology issues can be more of a problem when you’re far from in-person support.
  • Video meetings can be more tiring than face-to-face meetings.
  • Interpersonal relationships can be harder to manage when you don’t see each other in person.

Inability To Unplug

Many people hate commuting to an office, which can be time-consuming and expensive. But the upside of commuting is that you have a definite break between work and home. Although many office workers still log in from home later, work-from-home (WFH) employees in particular have the feeling of being "always on." A FlexJobs survey found that overworking or an inability to unplug was the top negative aspect of remote work noted by respondents. Thirty-five percent of them named it as a challenge.

Family Distractions

Many remote workers, especially women, are distracted by children when they work remotely. If you have a family it is important to let them know when you are working and therefore unavailable. 

Having a fully equipped office in a separate room in the house (so you can shut the door when necessary) is vital. Note also that your home office is not necessarily a suitable place for small children and pets to play.


A separate and dedicated workspace also allows for a tax deduction if you're self-employed.

Technology or Equipment Issues

Not having the right equipment at home, having a spotty or poor Wi-Fi connection, or just running into everyday technology snags can make remote work more challenging. Twenty-eight percent of respondents in the FlexJobs survey cited tech problems as an issue, and 26% complained about reliable Wi-Fi. While tech problems can happen in an office, too, it's usually easier to trouble-shoot them when help is on-site.

Your employer may be able to provide you with better equipment, so it's worth asking. If you're in business for yourself, it's definitely worth investing in good technology. And remote communication with a tech support team may not be as efficient as working face-to-face, but it can often work nevertheless.

Video Meeting Fatigue

While video meetings are great in that they allow remote meetings where you can see each others' faces, they come with a new set of challenges. "Zoom fatigue" is real. Researchers have found four reasons.

  • The amount of eye contact and the size of faces on screens is unnatural.
  • Seeing yourself during video meetings is tiring.
  • You can't move much during video chats and still remain in screen.
  • You have to work harder to communicate without the usual gestures and non-verbal cues.

Minimizing face sizes, hiding your view of yourself, using an external keyboard to provide more space between you and the screen, and taking audio-only breaks can all help reduce these problems.

Harder to Collaborate and Manage Work Relationships

Despite all the collaborative tools and ways technology has given us to communicate with each other online, sometimes there's no substitute for face-to-face interaction. People sitting around a table looking over drawings may be able to solve a problem in minutes that might take days using online collaboration tools. 

And discussing touchy issues with a colleague or bonding with colleagues can be much easier when done face-to-face than on video chat. It’s easier to misread cues or step on each others’ words over electronic communication.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the advantages of working from home?

WFH fans love that they don’t have to commute, which saves time and money. Many find they save money on lunches and clothing, too. A lot of workers feel they’re more productive at home without the distractions of workplace chitchat.

And people who don’t go into an office may stay healthier by avoiding viruses they’d catch in the office or during their commute. You may also find a lot more job openings when you’re not limited to employers in your geographic area.

How can I work from home?

If your employer allows employees to work from home, the first thing to do is find out whether your job is eligible. If so, speak to your supervisor about it. If not and it’s important that you be able to work from home, you could look for a new job that allows you to work remotely. Some job search sites such as FlexJobs specialize in remote work. And many mainstream job sites allow you to specify that you’re looking for a remote job.

Was this page helpful?
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. McKinsey. "Americans Are Embracing Flexible Work—And They Want More of It."

  2. FlexJobs. "FlexJobs Survey Finds Employees Want Remote Work Post-Pandemic."

  3. I/O at Work and Journal of Applied Psychology. "Constant Interruptions Make Remote Work Challenging."

  4. Stanford. "Stanford Researchers Identify Four Causes for 'Zoom Fatigue' and Their Simple Fixes."

Related Articles